Chinese jets ‘buzz’ CFB Esquimalt-based ship as Trudeau preps for G20

PM looking for progress in disputes with China over agriculture products, detention of two Canadians

A Chinese flag is illuminated by sunshine in the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Thursday September 22, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has arrived in Osaka, Japan for the G20 leaders’ summit, with a contact between Chinese fighter jets and Canadian ships in the East China Sea adding a new tension between the two countries.

Trudeau is hoping for progress, or at least fresh support from other countries, in Canada’s disputes with China over agriculture products and China’s arrests of two Canadians in apparent retaliation for Canada’s detention of a Chinese high-tech executive on an extradition warrant from the United States.

The prime minister has no meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping at the summit to do this, but U.S. President Donald Trump committed to raising the detentions of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor during his own meeting with the prime minister in the Oval Office last Thursday.

Trudeau will also lean on like-minded allies that have already spoken out about the detentions, including France, the U.K., Germany and Spain.

On Friday, he will meet with European partners to discuss a range of issues such as climate change, though the diplomatic issue with China is expected to be raised.

READ MORE: Feds ‘deeply concerned’ by China’s arrests of Canadians Kovrig, Spavor

The incident at sea was reported by former journalist Matthew Fisher, now with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute think-tank, who was aboard HMCS Regina on June 24 when two Chinese jets flew within 300 metres of the frigate.

The Regina and the navy’s interim resupply ship, MV Asterix, were in the area after travelling in international waters from Vietnam to the coast of North Korea to help the UN prevent North Korean smuggling. That included a transit through the strait between mainland China and Taiwan.

The Defence Department confirmed the flypast in an emailed statement on Thursday, adding that the incident “was not provocative, hazardous, or unexpected given the proximity of the Operation Neon operating area to China.”

Operation Neon is the name of the military’s efforts to crackdown on North Korean smuggling in the East China Sea.

Chinese naval vessels also shadowed the Canadian ships, the department said, and a laser was pointed at a Canadian helicopter.

“This originated from a fishing vessel,” the department said of the laser. “No one was injured during this incident nor was there damage to the aircraft.”

According to Fisher’s report, the “noisy fly-past” was the first such incident between a Canadian vessel and Chinese aircraft, though the Regina’ captain, Cmdr. Jake French, was quoted as playing down any threat.

Russian aircraft have previously been buzzed Canadian warships in similar fashion in the Black Sea, where tensions have been high since Moscow annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.

Brian Job of the Institute of Asian Research at UBC said the department’s description of what happened during the transit has changed several times.

“First, DND simply reports passage through the Taiwan Strait, then it reports being monitored by Chinese vessels … but without anything untoward,” he said.

“Then today, the report on being buzzed by Chinese (military) planes — again with a reassurance by the military that this is not a concern.”

—With files from Lee Berthiaume in Ottawa

Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Survivor of near-drowning in Elk Valley lake viewing life through new eyes

“If I died that day, the baby wouldn’t know his dad,” said 31-year-old Mariano Santander-Melo.

Cannabis stores in Fernie get green light, open in one month

Two cannabis stores in Fernie could be open for non-medical sales in… Continue reading

Annual Columbia Basin Culture tour coming up Aug 10 and 11

There are locations across the region participating

Structure fire near Elko quickly contained, spreading prevented

A quick response by local firefighters today prevented the spread of a… Continue reading

Stetski talks up NDP election platform

NDP candidate for Kootenay-Columbia riding outlines election ‘commitments’ to Canadian voters

Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman sentenced to life in prison

Experts say he will likely wind up at the federal government’s Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado

‘Beyond the call’: Teen in police custody gets birthday surprise by B.C. Mountie

Unusual celebration started when Staff Sgt. Paul Vadik went to visit the teen in his Coquitlam cell

Thunderstorms forecast across B.C.

Environment Canada has issued a thunderstorm watch for B.C.’s central Interior

B.C. mom to go to Europe court in hopes of getting alleged abducted daughter back

Tasha Brown alleges her estranged wife abducted their daughter Kaydance Etchells in 2016

Driver who killed B.C. motorcyclist receives absolute discharge

Chase family speechless following decision by BC Review Board

Lower gas prices slow annual inflation rate to Bank of Canada’s 2% bull’s-eye

Prices showed strength in other areas — led by a 17.3 per cent increase in the cost of fresh vegetables

B.C. moves to preserve 54 of its biggest, oldest trees

Fir, cedar, spruce, pine, yew set aside from logging

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Most Read